Last year, I wrote on these pages that the Sisters of Charity’s continued participation in the National Maternity Hospital scheme was a fool’s game. It’s worth briefly quoting from that piece, published eleven months ago:
In the wild flights of imagination that passes for Irish public discourse, Nuns are the enemy, capable of nothing except causing pain and suffering. In this case, their act of charity is being universally presented as a cloak and dagger scheme to deny women their right to an abortion, and a latter-day attempt to put healthcare in Ireland back under clerical control. Most sane people realise that this is nonsense, but the Nuns’ faith in the sanity of most Irish public debate is completely misplaced.
A year on, it is worth reviewing the situation: The Nuns have done about all that they could possibly have been asked to do, and more, in truth, than they ever should have agreed to. The New Maternity Hospital, per the agreement signed with the state, will be fully secular. There will be no nuns on the board. According to the legal documents signed between the site owners and the state, all legal treatments will be offered within its walls – which is of course code for abortions. Nobody wants to come right out and say it, but the concern of the establishment is not about the availability of caesarean sections. All this talk about “religious influence” is about abortion, and nothing more.
The Nuns have relinquished legal ownership of St. Vincent’s hospital and its grounds. The State has a 299 year lease on the land.
The Nuns were under no obligation of any kind to agree to a word of this – they had the land, the state needed it. If the state wished to use the land, then the Nuns were in a position where they could have chosen to fight and dictate terms. In the end, the state ended up dictating terms to them. It is functionally an unconditional surrender by the Sisters of Charity.
And predictably, it’s won them no friends whatsoever. The people who insisted that the Nuns were going to be malevolent, interfering owners who would turn away women seeking fertility treatments or abortions have not been satisfied. Indeed, they have gotten louder. The Irish Times, as ever unwilling to stand up to the lunatics to its left, for fear of losing subscriptions, solemnly proclaimed in a weekend editorial that “concerns must be allayed”. It said:
Far greater difficulties then arose when concerns were raised over possible Catholic influence on the maternity hospital after it moved to a religious-owned campus.
Given the history of church interference in health, these concerns were understandable. They needed to be allayed.
One way of addressing them would be for the State to buy the site and own the newly-built hospital. This approach, however, would never deliver a new hospital in the near future. St Vincent’s, though State-funded, is a voluntary body with its own board and a right to run its own affairs.
It is a strange thing to say in one paragraph that concerns must be allayed, and then in the next to admit that there is no practical way to allay the concerns. In fact, the Irish times offers no way at all that these concerns can be allayed.
This is because, to be frank, the concerns are bogus: The Irish establishment is presently entertaining a conspiracy theory put forward by a loud minority that the Sisters of Charity have secretly and by means of some dastardly obfuscation hoodwinked the state.
The theory is based – rather transparently – on naked anti-Catholicism. It has all the characteristics of a conspiracy theory: It involves an alleged secret plot by a shadowy organisation (in this case the nuns) against the ordinary people. It is unfalsifiable: You will never convince or allay those who are concerned by citing anything so mundane as legal documents. It is based on openly ludicrous tinfoil hat line drawing, such as this, published in the Irish Independent, of all places:
“Speak for the voiceless” is a catch cry of the pro-life/anti-abortion movement worldwide. An Instagram page tagged “Speaking for the Voiceless” posts slogans such as “abortion is not a right” and “all lives matter”. A not-for-profit called Voices for the Voiceless works “to change hearts and minds” about abortion in the US.
And there it is, “core value” number five in the constitution of St Vincent’s Holdings CLG — the charitable trust to which the Religious Sisters of Charity transferred their shares in land on which the National Maternity Hospital will be built. “Advocacy: to speak for the voiceless: act with and for them to achieve the appropriate quality of care.”
Did you catch that? An Instagram Page in America uses a four-word slogan similar to one of the principles of the new hospital, and this is cited as evidence – in a national newspaper – that the new hospital will conspire against the pro-choice movement. At least those who remain obsessed with vaccines have actual Pfizer documents to peruse. This, by contrast, is tinfoil hat stuff. If we published something like that about vaccines or lockdowns here at Gript, there’d be politicians demanding we be censored.
Yet this is now the level of argument that is being given very serious consideration in Ireland. Consider for a moment how much credence is given, by contrast, to those who point out the regular appearance of the phrase “build back better”, or the phrase “new world order” in the speeches of western politicians as evidence of a globalist conspiracy theory. Those people are almost uniformly dismissed as kooks by the media princelings – and yet those people have objectively more evidence for their conspiracy theory than the Irish Independent felt was needed to justify publishing the above.
That’s two national newspapers, then, airing “concerns” about the hospital which are nothing of the sort. The “concerns” are not really about the hospital, but the nuns.
Over the last week or so, nothing has been off-limits when it comes to criticising the nuns. The media has chosen to present the most deranged anti-catholic conspiracy theories of a fringe minority as legitimate and worthy of debate. The actual facts of the matter – the facts of the legal agreement with the state – have been presented as debatable, when they are not.
This is exactly the kind of behaviour our journalists regularly pretend to deplore. They say, for example, that Climate Science debates should be based only on established scientific consensus. They will not platform those with concerns about covid vaccines. They spent a year shutting down anybody with an opposing view on lockdowns, on the basis that they were “facts first”, or something. But when it comes to the National Maternity Hospital, that commitment to facts and challenging conspiracy theorists has, of course, entirely evaporated.
You can say what you want about Nuns in Ireland. It does not even need to be true.
If the Nuns had any sense, they’d just pull the whole deal. They are not going to get a smidge of credit in Ireland for the steps they have taken, and in the process, they’re undermining their own values. They should solve the problem and give the conspiracy theorists what they want: Tell the state to build its own hospital.
Heck, RTE has plenty of spare land just up the road.